The Legal Matters: Conrad

The Legal Matters: Conrad is available for purchase from The Legal Matters’ Website.

The Legal Matters are Keith Klingensmith (who also owns and operates Futureman Records), Andy Reed, and Chris Richards.

The Legal Matters have achieved something that qualifies as an exception to the rules…I can tell you about the influences and inspirations behind the music, starting with the Who-derived name of the band itself. I can tell you that, in the big picture, the songs have harmony-rich vocals front and center, on a bed of the whole “Echo In The Canyon” mid-60s Beach Boys / Byrds / Beatles trifecta. All of that becomes meaningless when you listen to the album, because this band doesn’t “sound like” anyone…they’ve managed to take all of those classic elements and emerge with something that is fresh, unique, inspiring, and totally the product of the musicians involved. In the simplest of terms, they have crafted an 11-song, 37-minute masterpiece that thoroughly obliterates whatever public conception may exist regarding “indie” musicians.

I’ve long said that I find it to be a meaningless term, something that defines a band without a major label contract, and that many “indie” musicians are currently making music that is equal to or superior to anything you’ve ever heard from the “majors.” Here’s your proof of that.

I played the album several times, front to back, and shelved my review, because there was nothing I could say about this in an “analytical” manner. It defies analysis, it’s just damned good. I heard the first 8 songs, 29 minutes total, and every song was a wonderful, beautifully crafted gem. Then I got to track 9, “Hip Hooray,” and that’s right about the time when my jaw hit the floor and I had to set this piece aside to reconsider what, if anything, I could tell you about this album that would do it justice. How could this song show up after the album had already earned its stripes after the first eight?

The song begins innocently and pleasantly enough, with the shimmering instrumentation entering gradually. Then, around the 55 second mark, the wall of sound hits. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know the wall gets me every time. “Oh, what a day…take your clouds, and go away…Rejoice, and say…hip, hip, hip hooray…” It’s been a while since a song has flattened me. The last two artists to resonate with me in this manner were In Deed and Gretchen’s Wheel, and yes, you guessed it, they are also “indie artists.”

The album closer, “Better Days,” is another one that takes its time to blossom, and it’s another transcendent wonder. As carefully constructed as anything Brian Wilson produced in the mid-to-late 60s, with all of the Beatles and Byrds subtle psychedelia intact, and those vocals…those vocals. There is ebb and flow and the band members are masters of nuance and dynamics.

Through one song after another, this album will thoroughly obliterate whatever you’ve thought about “indie music” to date. Stunning from start to finish. Buy it…it’s a wonderful addition to any music lover’s collection.